Photorealistic Illustrations Capture The Real Beauty Of Both Fact And Fiction

Italian artist and illustrator Marcello Barenghi’s pieces seem to jump off the page. His work combines the precise detail of photorealism with the slick finishes and saturated colors of comic book illustration, creating attention-grabbing images. And yes, it’s all done by hand.

Barenghi uses a combination of colored pencil, watercolor, graphite, and airbrush to create his images. In case you don’t believe it, he includes time-lapse video on his site of his projects’ creations, like this one of a cheeseburger:

The (delicious) finished product.

It looks like you could pick up right off the table.

Barenghi’s ability to render small details and a variety of textures comes from observation. His images of food items and objects comes from direct study of those objects in real life. He learns how light reflects off their surfaces, about their textures and coloration, and how their forms exist in space. “Potentially I am fascinated by everything,” Barenghi says. “I am used to [looking] at an object taking into account its reflections, the lights, the shadows, its colors and shape. Every single object has its own beauty, [even] an empty bag of potato chips.” Barenghi’s powers of observation made it possible for him to recreate a variety of difficult items, including glass and printed labels.

Barenghi might have a photorealistic bent in his work, but that doesn’t stop him from having style. As seen in his illustrations of fruit, his bold, almost glowing colors lend a hint of surreal glossiness. They show an elevated, enhanced, almost idealized image of the real thing, highlighting the unique beauty of its form. 

Barenghi is aware that his work straddles the realistic and the fantastic. “It’s true, my drawings are hyper-realistic,” he says,”but it is also true that you can find my style in each of them, my own way of translating reality.” He’s also aware that, just like anything else, there’s always something to learn from the last project to improve the next one. In addition to drawing from life, Barenghi also creates caricature work.

He does dabble in fiction, when not making hyper-realistic sketches of things you can find in real life.

It’s best if you don’t get this sketch wet.

Iron Man may not be real, but he certainly looks like he is flying off of the page.

You can check out the rest of his work on his site and Facebook page.